Grapefruit Kolaches

Grapefruit KolachesToday is Texas Independence Day! On March 2, 1836, Texas became independent from Mexico, briefly becoming the Republic of Texas before it became part of the United States in 1845. Growing up in the Lone Star State, I can’t recall ever acknowledging this holiday in any formal way, but when I realized that March 2nd fell on a “blog day,” I set out to bake up a Texan delicacy: kolaches.
Grapefruit KolachesIf you’ve ever driven up or down I-35 between Austin and Dallas-Fort Worth, you know the turn-off for West (the town, not the direction) means two things: a pit-stop and kolaches (“kohl-ah-cheh”). This small Czech enclave is one of the most popular food attractions in Texas. I’m not exactly sure how this came to be the state capitol of Czech pastry, but basically everyone who has ever stopped at the Czech Stop is grateful it exists. Kolaches are the ultimate in Texan road trip snacks.
Grapefruit KolachesFun fact: I happen to be of Czech descent (my mother’s maiden name is Fitzek), but my ancestors came to the U.S. by way of Chicago and didn’t bake, as far as I know. But back to the pastries…
Grapefruit KolachesIf you haven’t had a kolache, just imagine a puffy, pillowy-soft pastry filled with sweet fruit filling (or sweet cheese or savory sausage & jalapeño). Apricot, prune, and poppy seed are some of the most popular traditional flavors, but when I set out to make quality homemade kolaches, I wanted to go extra Texan. I set my focus on a sweet-tart filling made from Texas Ruby Red Grapefruits.
Grapefruit KolachesAs far as I’m concerned, kolaches are a great treat any time of day, but I think they’re especially good alongside a cup of coffee on a weekend morning. But who wants to get up way early and work with yeast dough for three hours on the weekend?!
Grapefruit Kolaches My solution is to make the dough the night before and let it rise in the fridge while I sleep. This cuts waaaaay down on the early morning time commitment. Plus, the dough is initially super soft, thanks to the additions of sour cream, whole milk, and melted butter. It’s much easier to manipulate after a long chill.
Grapefruit KolachesGrapefruit KolachesJust punch it down in the morning…Grapefruit KolachesGrapefruit KolachesGrapefruit Kolaches
…roll it out and cut it into 2 1/2” circles. Brush them with melted butter.
Grapefruit KolachesGrapefruit KolachesLet them rise for half an hour while you mix together the posypka (crumble topping) and add a little flour to the homemade grapefruit curd filling. This will help keep it from running out of the kolaches while baking.
Grapefruit KolachesGrapefruit KolachesOnce 30 minutes are up, press a well into each piece of dough.
Grapefruit KolachesFill them with grapefruit filling…Grapefruit Kolaches
…and top them with the posypka.
Grapefruit KolachesBake the kolaches at 350F for 12-14 minutes, just until they’re barely starting to turn golden and smell like butter and grapefruit and nostalgia for your Texan childhood.

That last part may just be for me 🙂
Grapefruit KolachesGive the finished kolaches another brush of melted butter before digging in.
Grapefruit KolachesWhether or not you are familiar with these Czech pastries, you are in for a treat! Grapefruit Kolaches are super soft and buttery and the grapefruit filling has the perfect sweet-tart balance. One (or two) paired with a cup of coffee can make almost anyone happy to be awake.
Grapefruit KolachesAs if there were any doubt, I’m always happy to be Texan.Grapefruit Kolaches

Grapefruit Kolaches
makes about 22 pastries

1/2 cup (1 stick) + 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon lemon zest (from 1 medium lemon)
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 large eggs, room temperature

1 cup grapefruit curd (recipe below)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Posypka (Crumble):
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

The night before you want to eat kolaches, makethe dough. Cut 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter into 8 pieces.Combine butter, whole milk, and sour cream in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Melt together, stirring occasionally, until mixture is warm to the touch (about 115F). Pour into a large mixing bowl and stir in sugar. Sprinkle yeast over the top and allow to prove for 5 minutes. Mixture will have just a few small bubbles.

Add 1 cup of the flour, the lemon zest, and salt to the wet ingredients. Fold together. Fold in beaten eggs, followed by 2 1/4 more cups of flour. Dough will be very soft and a bit sticky.

Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead 5 minutes before forming into a ball. Dough may be challenging to manipulate—use a bench scraper for easiest kneading. Grease a mixing bowl with oil. Place dough ball in the bowl, being sure to grease it on all sides. Press plastic wrap to the surface of the dough. Refrigerate overnight, about 8-12 hours.

In the morning, line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Remove dough from refrigerator and discard plastic wrap. Into two pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough until it’s 1/2-inch thick. Use a 2 1/2-inch round cutter to cut kolaches, rerolling as necessary. Place 3 inches apart on prepared pans.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Brush on the tops of cut kolache dough. Loosely cover with plastic wrap (or greased foil) and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free place for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the filling. In a small bowl, use a fork to stir together grapefruit curd and flour until combined. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Make the posypka (crumble). Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Stir with a fork until crumbly.

Position oven racks near the center. Preheat the oven to 350F.

Remove plastic wrap from one baking sheet of dough. Flour the back of a tablespoon and press it into the center of one kolache to make a well. Immediately fill with 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) of grapefruit filling. Flour the tablespoon again and repeat process with all remaining kolaches on the baking pan. Top all kolaches with a big pinch of the posypka. Repeat process with remaining baking sheet.

Bake kolaches uncovered for 12-14 minutes, rotating pans front to back at the 6 Minute mark. They will be barely-golden when they are done. Brush bakes kolaches with 1 tablespoon melted butter.

Let kolaches cool slightly on the pans. Serve warm.

Kolaches are best the day they are made, but may be refrigerated for a couple of days. Warm before serving.

Grapefruit Curd
makes about 1 1/3 cups

1 1/2 cups fresh-squeezed ruby red grapefruit juice, from about 2 large grapefruits
2 tablespoons grapefruit zest, from about 2 large grapefruits
1/2 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice, from about 1/2 medium lemon
1 large egg + 3 large egg yolks, room temperature
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 24 small cubes

Pour grapefruit juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until reduced to 2/3 cup (about 12-15 minutes). Remove from heat and cool 5 minutes.

Fill a small pot with 1-2 inches of water. Set a heatproof bowl over the top, ensuring that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Remove bowl and bring water to a simmer.

In the heatproof bowl, whisk together grapefruit zest, sugar, warm grapefruit reduction, lemon juice, and eggs. Set bowl over the pot of simmering water. Whisk constantly until mixture thickens slightly (it should coat the back of a spoon). Add butter 1-2 cubes at a time, whisking until melted. Continue until all butter is used. This should take 11-15 minutes total.

Set a fine mesh sieve over a medium mixing bowl. Push curd through sieve to remove zest. Transfer curd to a jar (or other container) and press a piece of plastic wrap to the top. Chill well.

Grapefruit KolachesGrapefruit Curd

Salted Grapefruit Scones

Winter food can get dull. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good pot pie or stew, and lord knows I could eat my weight in mashed potatoes, but after a while, I just want to eat fresh produce that isn’t a) a root vegetable, or b) kale. I love them both, but being at least three months away from really great berries and five away from a tomato that is good enough to be eaten like an apple has got me in a winter produce funk.

This happens every year though, until that wonderful, shining moment when I remember winter citrus. It’s a welcome taste of sunshine in the midst of all the wind and snow. Meyer lemons and key limes and clementines are all in season, waiting to be made into cakes and pies, or even thrown into salads! But the thing that always gets me is the grapefruit. Being from Texas, I prefer Ruby Red, but those are hard to come by in New York City. White and pink are delicious and all, but Ruby Red is just a cut above. It’s a little sweeter than other varieties, but still bitter enough to taste like grapefruit. Imagine my surprise when, after years of not seeing one Ruby Red in New York, I saw a whole box at my local green grocer. And they were on sale! Without a second thought, I grabbed two, handed over some change and ran home to make these scones.

I love a good scone. Soft in the middle with crunchy edges, not too sweet, great with a huge cup of coffee or tea. But good scones are hard to come by at coffee shops–they can be dry and cakey throughout, with very little depth of flavor. They’re simply not worth the cash or the calories, as far as I’m concerned. But these scones? They’re soft and buttery, sweetened with just a bit of honey and sugar, dotted with juicy pieces of fresh grapefruit, and topped with sea salt both for crunch and because sea salt and grapefruit are divine together. It may sound a little odd, but the salt makes the sweetness of the grapefruit shine. It’s so, so good.

These scones are quick and easy to whip up, and take less than an hour start-to-finish. Mix together some half-and-half and honey, and put it in the fridge to chill while you prepare the other ingredients. Use your fingers to rub the zest of one grapefruit into two tablespoons of granulated sugar until it’s well-combined and a little pasty (it’s better than it sounds). Peel that zested grapefruit and segment it, trying to avoid as much of the pith, membrane, and seeds as possible. This will keep the grapefruit from making the scones too bitter. Don’t worry too much about having perfect segments–they’ll break apart anyway when they’re mixed into the dough.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and the zest-sugar mixture. This may look a little clumpy because of the oils in the zest, but it’ll all even out with the other ingredients. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut in one stick of cold butter until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Then use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in the half-and-half mixture and the segmented grapefruit. The dough will be pretty wet, but should still have some body to it.

  Turn the dough out onto a very well-floured surface. Don’t skimp on the flour. If you do, you’ll have dough stuck to everything and probably start cursing my name, and that’s no good when there are awesome scones to be had! Flour your hands and pat the dough into a 1-inch thick disc. Use a sharp knife or bench scraper (my tool of choice) to cut the disc into eight wedges. Transfer the wedges to a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 425F for 18-20 minutes, until cooked-through and light golden. Then stir up a glaze with some confectioner’s sugar and the juice of a second grapefruit, drizzle it over the scones, and sprinkle with crunchy coarse sea salt! All you need is a hot cup of coffee or tea and some good company 😊

Break out of the heavy winter food rut with these Salted Grapefruit Scones! Sweet and salty, soft and buttery, they’re a wonderful way to start these cold, snowy days.

 Salted Grapefruit Scones
makes 8 scones

3/4 cup half-and-half + more for brushing, very cold
2 tablespoons honey
2 medium Ruby Red grapefruits**, divided
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into pieces
3/4-1 cup confectioner’s sugar
coarse sea salt*, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set a cooling rack over a piece of wax paper. Set aside.

Whisk together half-and-half and honey, and place it in the refrigerator to stay cold.

Zest one grapefruit. In a small bowl, rub together the zest and the granulated sugar. Set aside.

Peel the zested grapefruit, and segment it, removing as much of the pith and membranes as possible, as well as all of the seeds. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and zest-sugar mixture. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut the butter into the flour mixture until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Add in the half-and-half mixture and grapefruit segments and use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to incorporate them into a wet dough, making sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too sticky to handle, add up to 2 tablespoons more flour.

Turn the dough out onto a very well floured surface and use floured hands to pat it into a 1-inch thick disc. Flour a sharp knife (not serrated) or bench scraper and use it to cut the dough into eight wedges. Remove wedges to prepared pan, and brush the tops with additional half-and-half. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until light golden. Let scones cool on the pan for five minutes before removing to the prepared rack.

Make the glaze. Slice the second grapefruit in half. Seed one half of the grapefruit and squeeze the juice into a small bowl. Pour confectioner’s sugar into a second small bowl and add two tablespoons of the fresh grapefruit juice. Whisk with a fork until no lumps remain, adding juice or confectioner’s sugar until the glaze is to the desired consistency. Use a fork or small squeeze bottle to drizzle the glaze over the scones. Sprinkle wet glaze with coarse sea salt. Enjoy!

Glaze will fully set after a couple of hours. Scones are best the day they are made, but may be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 48 hours.


1. My grapefruits were about the size of a large orange.
2. If you can’t find Ruby Red, white or pink grapefruits may be substituted.
3. I use Trader Joe’s Pyramid Salt.

Salted Grapefruit Scones